Rogues Invade Karate Tournament
Back Row (L-R): Mike May, Kent Mitchell, Ron Loz, Paige Steinheart, Mike Hojinowski, Pete Kautz
Front Row (L-R): Anthony Lozinas and Mario Cerame
An After Action Report from Cornell University's Big Red Rumble
On Sunday, February 18, Cornell University's Arnis and Karate Club hosted the Big Red Rumble; and open martial arts tournament featuring divisions in both open-hand and weapon kata (forms), self-defense, point-sparring, and a new weapons sparring division hosted under the auspice of the North American Stick Fighting League. Helping Ed (who is 3rd degree black belt and heads up the host club) run things was no other than Datu Tim Hartman, one of the handful of instructors (only 6 in the world, to my knowledge) to earn this rank in Professor Remy Presas' Modern Arnis style. Tim is also a long time fencer and Western martial artist. Seeing Tim is always fun, because Ron Loz and I all started into Arnis not long after he did - at the same club (circa. 1987) - a blast from the past for us all.
Mike May and I both were asked to act as judges for the kata and self defense divisions, which we gladly did. When it came to the karate sparring, though, we politely stepped out. We had to have some time to relax and rally the troops. As I looked around at our small band in black, I could not help but chuckle. They all really showed up; sober, bright, ready to fight. I knew the battle was half won right there. Sadly Mike had hurt his shoulder lifting and wasn't going to be fighting, but he, Mel, and Lily kept excellent moral support, while my friend Estella kept the pirate colors flying! What was this swirling mass in black, under the jolly roger, laughing and whooping, spolin' to fight...all just for the fun of it? Nickolai my gypsy brother pulled out an Egyptian Rik (tambourine) and the scene was now complete...people asked "what are you?"
After a brief review of the rules (5 points to win or 2 minutes, first touch anywhere gets the point), we got underway. There were 17 people competing, with the rules changing from double to single elimination due to time constraints. Fair enough said we "dead is dead". We were there for one reason - to have fun - "what do we need rules for, these are padded weapons?"
Ron Loz was first up, but the judges could not understand his crashing arnis double stick style. Though he frustrated his katana wielding opponent, and hit him first on each crash, the judges only could see the swordsman's blows. Next up was Page who fought with precision using the sword and dagger against a katana wielding foe. Though he quickly learned that point play was next to useless with these weapons (it made no sound compared to a strike, so the judges had trouble scoring thrusts unless they were uncontested) he pulled ahead and beat his man before the 2 minute time limit elapsed. Mario showed great footwork and closing ability against longer weapons to zip right in, tie up, and fire combos from the clinch with his paired weapons.
Kent fought and won as did Anthony, using the sword and dagger, the staff respectively. Hojo got off to a great start with the staff, but was pointed out on ankle shots. Sad, because on the field I know he is a terror to behold with a glaive in the SCA and as part of the Company of Saint Michael (Sir Orlando Alverez). By this point, a pattern had emerged that we would see all day. Even when we lost on the "point" we were all getting hit on the extremities, while delivering killing blows of our own that arrived a tenth of a second later. Some competitors would simply dive in face first, confident they could touch you with a long staff on the leg for the point, apparently oblivious to the fact that they were being wailed in the head. Not a smart trade on the street, but in this environment it could work...oh well, adapt and overcome!
Things got rougher in the second round. I fought Paige in a close match (it always is with us, we know the other's style pretty well with rapier and dagger) but edged ahead. Anthony fought Kent, and won with a flying move straight out of a Jet Li movie, which even he felt was so silly it should have been banned, but to late, he was the victor. Mario fought again and won, closing to close range and using trapping / sensitivity skills to control the tie up and hit from there.
The third and fourth rounds were a blur... By this point no one wanted to get close to us, and they all opted for the staff, hoping to keep us at bay. Mario fought against an opponent with a long pole but could not make that clean pounce happen again while using the shorter weapons, and was out. I had thought to fight sword and dagger all day, but given this, I switched for a 5' spear, and used it the best way I know...like a 19th century bayonet. The spirit was with me, and though both people tried the typical Oriental staff "tricks" (you know, the figure 8's and spins) it did not help them. I'll "stick" to good ol' lunge, lunge-out, and throw-point, thanks!
The other fourth round match I remember was Anthony and Datu Tim Hartman. Anthony was in good form, but the medication was wearing off, and his wacky side was coming out. He laughed, joked and clowned for the crowd as is the way of one known to his closest friends as "Oaf". Heck, Spiderman would learn a thing of two about witty repartee' from this guy, but it caused him to lose his focus, and fighting someone of Tim's level that was all the mistake he needed to make. It didn't phase Anthony one bit, and he went on to fight again to determine the 3rd place, which he quickly claimed before being gently restrained by his team mates with a waiting hypo of thorazine.
Tim and I nodded, and stepped to the table of weapons. With our interest on the match just ending, we hadn't chosen new weapons for the last fight, and neither of us was going to pick one not knowing what the other had in mind... From under the pile of padded weapons, two daggers called out "Hey...we've been ignored all day...let us come out to play!" and it was settled. The big weapons had seen their glory, but now for a last fight between two men let it be a more personal weapon. I hadn't seen Tim for nearly 10 years, yet it was like yesterday to see him there across from me again. "A match a long time in the making" said the referee. Things started well, as I claimed the first two points, but Tim quickly caught up, and as fate would have it, the score was tied 4 to 4 as the timer sounded. In overtime I was too hasty, and ignored my True Measure for a moment, and was promptly hit for so failing - the day would be Datu Hartman's, and I would take 2nd. It was helluva fun, that's all I know.
With only minutes to rest, they announced the 3-man team rules. Each person fights for 1 minute, total points for all 3 added together in a team score. Mario, Paige, and I fought as a team and again delivered "downright blows" to the head with good timing in lieu of any fancy tricks; giving us the 1st place trophy in this division. In a humorous side note, just before we were about to fight, one of the competitors came up and asked "Is there any advise you can give me about fencing?"
"Yes," I replied "Hit, and don't be hit. Everything else is secondary." For a moment I thought I heard the masters laughing...